This and That

This & That: Physical football, rivalry & more

On the road: The Steelers won their last meeting with the Baltimore Ravens, on Christmas Day last year when Antonio Brown's last minute touchdown secured the AFC North title.

But it's been since 2012 that the Steelers have won a game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. And Steelers' players know it won't get any easier this week.

"Everyone plays the Pittsburgh Steelers their best," said Maurkice Pouncey. "We love the challenge. When you play somebody twice a year they learn you a little bit more. You have to go out there and make big time plays. It's always a hard-fought, tough game."

Hard-fought, tough, physical. Those are definitely ways to describe any meeting between these two teams. "We know the Ravens," said Stephon Tuitt. "They are going to play us tough. It will be a physical football game on both sides. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes and plays the game physically will come away with a win. We are going there with a mindset to be a physical football team."

A great rivalry: For some, it's a rivalry they have been a part of for years, for others, it's still relatively new to them. But for everybody in the Steelers' locker room, the rivalry against the Ravens is one that they enjoy.

"It's a great rivalry," said Eli Rogers. "Ever since I have been here it's been an exciting game, an intense game. Historically it's a great rivalry. And it's AFC North football. That is important when you are trying to get position in this conference."

One thing is certain about this rivalry, it's not a warm and fuzzy one.

"It's a rivalry. It's a true rivalry between the two teams," said Tuitt. "When we go there, just like when they come here, we want to make sure everybody is prepared for the game.

"This is an exciting week. It's against the Ravens. What other team would you rather come back against after a loss to beat on? To do that, we have to come in every day and get better. We can't do what we did last week."

Catching up: Vance McDonald wasn't supposed to be on the field. It was actually Jesse Jameswho should have been out there, but he was banged up, so McDonald took his spot. And it paid off. Here's how.

Against the Bears last week Sherrick McManis blocked Chris Boswell's 35-yard field goal attempt. Marcus Cooper picked it up and looked like he was headed into the end zone, but slowed down, and was caught from behind by McDonald, who knocked the ball free at the one-yard line.

Yes, the play resulted in a field goal for the Bears, and the Steelers weren't able to pull out the win, but McDonald's hustle can't be denied.

"I knew if I could take away the possession of the ball, just stop them from being able to score on the play," said McDonald. "That is what I was trying to do. I was trying to hit it backwards into the field of play to keep it from going into the end zone."

McDonald, who made a similar play while with the San Francisco 49ers, joked that he had plenty of time to try and figure out what to do when he caught up to Cooper.  

"It was 70 yards. I had a lot of time to think," said McDonald. "I just hit it and tried to swat it as hard as I could."  

They said it:

Jesse James on the offense:
"We are one guy away, one step away from making a huge play. We have to do better and make sure we can make plays that give the team a spark.  We have to make plays when we are called upon. Guys have to step up and make plays."

Artie Burns on Joe Flacco's ability to throw the long ball:
"We know those guys like to stretch the field. They have Mike Wallace. They have Breshad (Perriman) over there. Those are deep ball guys. We expect those guys to come out and try to get on top of us.

"We have to keep the ball in front of us. As long as the ball stays in front of us, doesn't get over our heads, we should be good. Stop the run, we didn't do that last week, and keep the ball in front of us and we should be good."

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